I wake up to no alarm, typically before 8 a.m. but sometimes a little later. I usually get to the gym before I have time to change my mind. It takes a lot of self-convincing.
Post gym, I head straight for the coffee machine and as it's percolating, I'm at my kitchen table checking and responding to emails, researching this resource or that idea, making lists, editing product ideas, pouring cup after cup of coffee. I might sneak out to run an errand, make a loaf of bread or a batch of muffins, I might even take a nap. All of this because my work day has no real beginning and no end. And for all the luxury of being my own boss, creating my own schedule and working from the comfort of my lazy girl pants:
The site has launched. The products have been designed, printed and packaged. The orders are trickling in. Christmas shows are in full swing. Trade show on the horizon. I've already moved on to new designs for the new year. And everyday, I have a slightly better idea of what I'm doing.
Working from home and for yourself sure sounds like a dream, doesn't it? You get to be creative and make money at the same time? What world do you live in and how do I get there too? Hold on to your panties, girlfriend because it's not all clouds and rainbows, as many of you know. Of course, I wouldn't trade it for the world, I promise. But like anything, there are two sides to every illusion (or delusion) and I think it's time we talked about both sides equally.
I mostly don't love what I do. Yes, you heard me right. As I've been madly working at turning this creative thing into a business thing I have become increasingly irritated with the DWYL movement (do what you love, in case you've been living under a rock). As my husband and I mused over too much beef tartar and chicken liver mousse on our anniversary date last night, I came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as do what you love. Why, you ask? Because it implies that people like me wake up everyday to the sound of harps playing, our skin glowing with superiority over those who don't know what they love or haven't found it in a book or a podcast or an overly-priced e-course. It creates an illusion of joy in work that simply doesn't exist. It's work. There are many days, most actually, where I feel like one of the two women in the photo above, where I just need to stop for a god damn sec to have a god damn cigarette even though I quit smoking almost three years ago.
And let's be honest, a lot of people don't have the luxury of finding their bliss, their passion or their calling. What does that even mean anymore? It's been so washed out and overused in social media that it's meaning has been reduced to an overly stylized photograph that lacks depth or sincerity. It also then encourages everyone with an idea and a hobby to leave it all behind for an Etsy shop and a blog. Following your dreams or doing what you love has been completely and utterly gutted of truth and meaning.
Not everyone can do it and certainly, not everyone should.
Because it's grunt work. It's unforgiving, shameless, gut wrenching grunt work. It's not meant for hobbies or fleeting ideas but for the ones who can NOT shake it. It's for the ones for whom it isn't a choice but an extension of themselves. Trust me, if there was something else I felt I should or could do, I would do that thing. It would be a heck of a lot easier, I'm sure. And please forgive me, as I'm not trying to discourage anyone with a creative idea to pursue it, quite the opposite. I am simply trying to dispel the tired DWYL notion that you will magically turn into a glowing expression of the work you love as it softly lands in your lap and you will reap the benefits of following your dreams in ways you never thought possible.
If you are ready to do the work, most of it is shit, then you will see dreams become reality.
So there you have it, the other 1%.
The ones who wake up day in and day out to work on things that may never see the light of day, that may get ripped apart and rejected, that may be all wrong or barely right. The ones who give up weekends and sleep for an idea that might not make sense, to offer the world all of their vulnerability with the knowledge that the world may simply look passed them. But they still get to work. They work when they are not inspired, through bad days and good days, when they want to give up or when they forgot what lead them here in the first place.
And mostly, they work long after anyone else would have given up. Quitting is not an option because the work is in them, not something they seek externally. Their work becomes their practice, something they go back to day in and day out as a way to hone their skills, to get closer to the greater vision. The joy is in the process of elimination and refining their skills.
The world wants the final copy, the 1% live for the first nine drafts.
Everyday I get up and get to work, not because I love it so much I can't exist without it but because it's just what comes out. Good or bad, I'm mostly bad at a lot of it, it rolls out in bursts of frustration and bubbles of inspiration. It's not so much a dream I'm chasing but an idea of how I can best serve my time on this planet while I'm here. I still don't quite know what that looks like but I do believe that if I just get to work everyday, it will naturally form into something I recognize as the reason I started doing this anyways. Until then, I'll be here, blood, sweat and tears, chipping away at the work I can't not do. Or until I decide to become a stay-at-home wife who sews her own muumuus and sells them on Etsy.
With love and determination,